On our recent visit to Belfast we decided to make the most of the mild summer weather and take a walk around looking at the sights of Belfast.
We were staying close to the Belfast City Hall and decided to book into the Tour of the City Hall and it was well worth it.
The building is amazing construction started in 1898, and took 8 years to complete. Opening in August 1906. The time effort and skill level of this building was amazing. They just don’t make buildings like this anymore. At the time it cost £360,000 (equivalant to £128,000,000.00)
The marble, the stone work and the pure volume of Stained glass windows is inspiring and we only saw such a small amount of it.
So come along with me with a collection of my favourite images from Belfast City Hall.
We recently got back from a trip to Ireland and Northern Ireland and it was only with my researching into Ireland that I found out that they are two very different countries.
I would like to think that I am a fairly well traveled person, and although in Australia we have heard of Ireland’s struggle for independence I didn’t realise that in the end they ended up two very distinct countries.
Ireland is a country of its own located in Europe that has managed to gain it’s independence from England with a very long battle for freedom and independence. With familiar towns like Dublin, Galway, Sligo, Cork.
Ireland is a Republic, with a President, A population of about 4.9 Million. Ireland ranks among the top ten wealthiest countries in the world in terms of GDP per capita, it is a member of the European Union.
Whereas Northern Ireland is a member of the UK and commonwealth. It has a population of about 1.8 MiIllion, and most notable towns are it’s capital Belfast and Derry.
Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom, has the queen as their monarch.
Northern Ireland still has a real political divide, between unionists, who wish to see Northern Ireland continue as part of the United Kingdom, and nationalists, who wish to see Northern Ireland become part of the Republic of Ireland, independent from the United Kingdom. This is something that is evident even as a tourist in their beautiful city.
Northern Ireland capital is Belfast, and recently has been getting even more media coverage due to the huge HBO hit Game of thrones choosing many of the iconic landscapes and castles of Northern Ireland as film locations, as well as many of their main sets being filmed in Titanic studios in Belfast.
5 things I learned when visiting Ireland and Northern Ireland.
1 – They have different currency.
As Northern Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom, they utilise Pounds and English Currency.
Ireland is a part of the Europe and use Euros for their currency
Many people in our group actually got caught unaware on this one with many people rushing to the currency exchange at Dublin airport to swap their currency over.
2- The mailboxes are different colours
In Ireland the postboxes are green and I found that really fascinating, when I wandered over the ‘border’ to Northern Ireland the post boxes went back to the traditional red postboxes that we are used to, as a member of the commonwealth.
3- There is no real border crossing
Whilst Ireland and Northern Ireland are two distinct countries, you can easily travel between the countries without needing to show your passport and go through immigration.
However the towns on the border definitely have a different feel to them.
In the Town of Derry buildings were full of amazing and poignant street art showcasing the fight for independence as well as memorials to lives lost in the independence.
4- The political undercurrent is still there
What surprised me the most is how current the tension is still in the air in towns like Belfast. Whilst we were in Belfast there was a huge amount of people waving the English flag and others firmly against it.
As you walk around the streets daily we saw anti riot police trucks in the area.
5- The Architecture is very different
Dublin is a much older city, and so is the architecture, the buildings range from 14th century onwards. It had a real relaxed feel. Cobblestone paths, old bridges, and you can really imagine the city hundreds of years earlier.
Towns like Galway have done a fantastic job of keeping the history of the area with many new buildings having to keep the old structures as well.
Belfast is much younger and for those who have travelled to Melbourne and seen buildings like royal exhibition buildings, flinders street station it is very reminiscent of that. whilst the buildings are still a couple of hundred years old, there are also a lot more modern buildings, shops scattered around.
5. Pubs are everywhere.
The one thing that stood out in both Ireland and Northern Ireland was that they both love a good pub.
In Both Dublin, Galway and Belfast the main place to have a meal would have to be a pub.
Traditional restaurants were few and far between and instead every second or third store front was a pub.
I have dreamed of visiting Giants Causeway for a very long time, and on our way to Belfast from Dublin, we dropped in with only a small amount of time to wander down and take some photos.
With my camera in hand ready to take some iconic images of the 40,000 interlocking basalt rocks we arrived at The Nook and disembarked our bus, ready to wander down the path to the famous area, made from ancient volcanic fissure eruption, that I have seen so many times on Instagram.
As we wandered down the path the scenery was spectacular, rolling green hills, old rock walls.
But as we got closer something else became apparent there would be no Instagram photos with empty rock foundations, because as we got closer the crowds begun to appear.
Every year over 1 million people visit giants causeway. With the success of Game of Thrones and the huge increase in tourism due to the great marketing of Northern Ireland’s tourism department highlighting all the film locations around the areas, these numbers are just increasing every year. The fact we also arrived in mid-afternoon and only had thirty minutes to look around also added to the rush.
People scurrying everywhere trying to get a shot, It really was a case of what you expect to see and what you actually do.
I had to adapt and change my expectation, and take the time to find an empty patch but it was well worth it.
If you keep wandering past the Basalt rocks you come to large columns that are amazing, they give you an opportunity to see what the structure would look like underground.
Just past the towering rocks is where the path meets up with the Giant Causeway Walking trails, and if we had more time (when we go back :-)) we will definitely wander these paths. The view from the ground of the Amphitheater was inspiring. These trails follow the cliff-top and will give a totally different perspective on the giant causeway.
With our time nearly up we turned back to walk up the path to our awaiting bus at the visitor centre. There is a shuttle bus that runs up and down the hill during business hours, however, the walk back up is only about 15-20 minutes and is not strenuous, so we wandered back up with a memory card full of inspiring pictures, ready to head into Belfast.
But before we hopped on the bus I had to take one more picture, a picture to me that was what I was expecting Northern Ireland to be like.
Have you been to Northern Ireland before?
Or arrived somewhere and realised your expectations were very different from reality?
Yesterday I was talking to soletmeexplore about her bucket list, 101 places that are on her bucket list. Many of them that she has already been too and it inspired me to start writing down my own travel wish list, places I want to visit.
For those already a regular on our Facebook page and blog would have heard of our “Travel dream board” that we created with our children, full of places they want to travel, and yes, Disney is a focal point. But there are many places I want to visit that I haven’t added to the board.
As a traveller, and a Photographer some of the places on my travel wish list I have been to in the past, well before I had my DSLR camera, with my Olympus 3MB camera in hand, some I have been to and managed to take photos.
Together with my children, we have created a Travel Wish List, a list of places we want to visit or revisit.
Places around Australia
There is something magical about Australia, it really is a unique place. Australia is the world’s largest island, covering 7.692 million km. It is home to many different climates from the mild temperatures of Tasmania, to the tropical heat of the Daintree. It really is an amazing place to visit. We have been to the most northern tip of Australia’s mainland, Cape York. Travelled the Nullarbor, with the longest straight stretch of road in the country 146.6km without a bend or turn. But there are still so many places left on my list to visit
A visit to the Whitsundays wouldn’t be complete without stepping on the award winning, Whitehaven Beach.
When travelling to the Whitsundays one of the most popular ways to spend the day is to headover to the award winning Whitehaven Beach. Whitehaven Beach is a 7km stretch of Beach that is located on Whitsunday Island, the largest of all the 74 Whitsunday Islands. The Island is 275.08 km2. Whitsunday Island is located directly opposite Hamilton Island.
Whitsunday Island is accessible from Airlie Beach, or Hamilton Island by Boat, Sea Plane or helicopter. It is a popular location for both day visitors, and overnight visitors. With 6 different camp grounds and a variety of different tourist companies bringing tourists over.
Whitehaven Beach is known around the world for its amazing crystal white Silica sand, that is incredibly fine, and it’s beautiful turquoise water.
In the past we have headed over by boat and spent the day at Hill’s inlet (Northern end) and swam at the southern end of Whitehaven Beach. We have taken a boat to Chalkie’s beach and wandered through the Island back to the southern strip of the beach. This time though we wanted to do something different.
As we where staying at Hamilton Island, We decided to look into Hamilton Island Air to see what was available.
Hamilton Island air has nine different tours you can choose from Hamilton Island, some of them are purely scenic flights over the Reef, Whitehaven or Hamilton Island. Some take you to Reefworld, others to both Reefworld and Whitehaven Beach.
After much thought we decided on the Heart Reef and Whitehaven Stopover and it didn’t disappoint. In this tour you start with a scenic helicopter flight over the Great Barrier reef including flying over Heart Reef, Reef world, then you get to see Whitehaven Beach from a different perspective. Flying over Hill’s inlet before landing on the beach and having a lovely picnic for two on the beach, halfway between the busier southern end and Hill’s Inlet.
Hamilton Island Air picnic is lovely with an assortment of fruit, cheese and biscuits and muffins. Some cold water and a lovely bottle of champagne.
After our pilot set up the picnic for us, he wandered off leaving us alone on the secluded beach.
After about an hour on the beach we travelled back to Hamilton Island with a memory card full of images.
If you ever get a chance to take a Helicopter flight out of Hamilton Island I recommend the Whitehaven Beach stopover.